One Poem by David Ralph Lewis


One ordinary Tuesday evening they knock.
You inspect the warrant but find no fault.
So in they come, not wiping their shoes.

Once you have served them both tea to
their exacting specifications, the little
one presses the back of your neck hard,

a secret switch you never discovered.
You are paralysed. Your heart stays steady.
Unable to move, you watch as they dismantle

your home, move all your furniture out,
leave an empty shell where your life
once proceeded in predictable ways.

With apologies and surprising gentleness
they fold you up like a winter coat
and stuff you into a musty wardrobe.

You listen to their receding footsteps
like rain ceasing. You wait in the dark,
occasionally nibbled by gentle moth teeth.


David Ralph Lewis is a poet and short story writer based in Bristol, UK. When not writing, he enjoys dancing badly at gigs and attempting to grow vegetables. His first chapbook, Our Voices in the Chaos, was published by Selcouth Station in October 2019. You can follow him at

One Poem by Martha Landman

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Girl at the Pond at Ville d’Avray

sits there on a fallen birch branch
at one with the ochre morning.
He imagines her skin, soft
as autumn falls across the pond.

He doesn’t know her name
or where she’s from.
Her dulcet voice arrests him,
              she sings De Musset:
Farewell, farewell! so must it be

And his heart beats
like the wings of the ascending lark.
He hasn’t the courage to approach her,
promises himself tomorrow he will
as he does each day.


Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, South Australia, where she is a member of Friendly Street Poets. Her work has appeared online and in print in US, UK, Australia and South Africa.

One Poem by Lynn White

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.


The time of freshness.
New shoots.
Saying goodbye
to the deadness of winter
of creaking browns and greys.
A time when it is difficult to discern
the living from the dead.

The time of revelation.
Saying hello to
old branches
tree trunks
ash late in leaf,
but only so far
it’s dead ends
showing up
against the green.

when the dead of winter
and the sick old growth
cannot greet the new.
We only see it now.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Find Lynn at and

What the Owl Taught Me by Annest Gwilym

I’m very happy to announce that my second book, first full collection of poetry – What the Owl Taught Me – published by Lapwing Poetry, is now available.

“This is a rich and intense read that puts humanity mostly in the background and natural life in the foreground like a lifelong love affair, and long may the affair continue beyond this first full collection. What the Owl Taught Me is full of poems of frailty with an underpinning strength that allows for delight on every printed page.” JAMES BELL

For more reviews, to read sample poems, and to buy a copy click here.

Bestiary Cover Pic

One Poem by Paul Connolly

The Smell of Bluebells

Spring scents activate memories
of spring scents, which swell them out
to drenching. But bluebells fragrance oblivion
here at this woodland corner hospice
in which they’re born to fade away,
sighing in sedation an elite perfume
thin as homeopathy, costing thousands
in their death-bed legacies, lost and held
and lost again and gone. Remembrance
is a traceless abstraction, the favourite smell
unknown beyond this renewing mass
extinction, the sweetened cull of spring.


Paul Connolly’s poems have appeared in Nine Muses Poetry, Agenda, Warwick Review, Poetry Salzburg, The Reader, Scintilla, Dawntreader, Takahē, Dream Catcher, Orbis, The Journal, FourXFour, Seventh Quarry, Sarasvati, Envoi, Obsessed with Pipework, Southlight, High Window, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Northampton Poetry Review, London Grip, and The Cannon’s Mouth.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

the pond

is still there
though we are forbidden to visit
walk its pathways
and greet the old leaning tree
in amongst the birch
its trout still submerged
in waters of their own safety
not visible to a landward world
with their less calmer concerns
so no anglers sit
at the end of rods and lines
no lovers stroll and share
few words on lips and in the air –
one day again a girl will
fondle bark and think
secret thoughts in sun and shade
wave to just arrived swallows –
though today we are forbidden
to see the reeds in the breeze
until another day though nobody
can say when this will be


James Bell – returned to writing poetry over twenty years ago and has not yet left. He is a regular contributor to Nine Muses’ Special Challenges. His third poetry collection, Here At The End Of The World, is forthcoming from Lapwing Poetry.

One Poem by Andy Eycott


In her hospital room, she lay covers
strewn, skin from her wedding gown,
ghosting, pale moon waning.

Her fragile porcelain caught in the flash
of spring sun dazzling in a mirror.
She lay summer and winter

her mind fluid in time, conversing
in the here and now, then and then.
Everyone she ever loved alive

and jostling for her gaze, here
to help pass time in the waiting room,
to populate her world of magnolia.


Since being diagnosed with dyslexia at 48, Andy has had poems published in print and online. Publications include: Obsessed with Pipework, Orbis, The Dawntreader, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and a number of anthologies. He lives and works in South East London and loves his new role as a grandad.

One Poem by Jordan Trethewey

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Awaiting Watercolour

Life remains a sketch
waiting for watercolour.

I work windowless, at home, as before
a pre-bug promotion promised a view.

Can buds, clocked to bloom in May,
be discouraged by larvae, like me?

Warned off, childish chirps during park play
replaced by songbirds doing the same.

I am grateful a favourite path remains
less-traveled. Two metres, too close, yet

consideration and cordiality flow unnaturally
onto the sidewalks, spill into streets.

Unnoticed neighbours flash smiles,
nod hello, strut in 19th Century costumes,

encourage the elaborate regulations
prescribed by the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Colour returns this Spring,
just not as before.


Jordan Trethewey is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. His frightening book of verse, Spirits for Sale, is available on Amazon from Pskis Porch Publishing. Some of his work found a home here, and in other publications such as Burning House Press, Visual Verse, Claifragile, CarpeArte Journal, Fishbowl Press, The Blue Nib, Red Fez, Spillwords and Fudoki Magazine. Jordan is also an editor at His poetry has been translated into Vietnamese and Farsi. To see more of his work go to:

One Poem by Robert Nisbet

A Welsh Pub

At a corner table, tapping their pipes
against the ashtrays for emphasis,
two men from the college, savouring
their stewed pears and the joys of debate,
comparing George Herbert’s Easter Wings
with some of Dylan’s similar experiments.

At the bar, two rugby players,
under-twenties, telling the barmaid
about their Easter tour to Cornwall.

And below the brown wall’s hunting prints,
the man and his brindled greyhound,
just back from the Swansea dog stadium,
where the animal had been triumphant,
had raced away with it, and was rewarded now
with a plateful of pork scratchings.

Outside, the blustering winds of March.


Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet, sometime creative writing tutor at Trinity College, Carmarthen, living a little way down the coast from Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse. He has published widely and in roughly equal measures in Britain and the USA. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee for 2020.

One Poem by Paula Puolakka

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

The Good Ol’ Days / A Better Tomorrow

The 1870s scene of Ville-d’Avray (France)
reminds me of how life was
in Sipoo, Oulu, and Mikkeli (Finland)
still in the 1980s.

Walking barefoot in the dirt,
collecting tadpoles (none were hurt),
and executing the expeditions while my grandmother
was keeping guard: That was life.

The leaning trees are the good ol’ days:
hallow and decaying,
and their former brilliance only true to me
in my memories–pure fiction to many.

Yet, one birch is standing tall:
she reminds me of my grandmother
(alive and well, thank you, Father).
In her is the key for a better tomorrow.


Paula Puolakka (1982) is a Beat poet, writer, and MA (History of Science and Ideas). Lately, Puolakka has been focusing on homemade zines (Finnish and English) to minimize the usage of technology and to gladden people with old-school mail. Spillwords Press will publish Puolakka’s short rant on May 7th.